Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUN 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 72 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JUNE 2018 chain profile caption Martino says. During slow periods, he notes, a single staffer can handle both the middle section and the sides station. This represents a markedly different approach than the kitchen set up at Bono's. At roughly half the size of that kitchen, Willie Jewell's has a far more compact and efficient back of the house. Ahead of the first Willie Jewell's openings, in fact, the company's leaders were afraid the restaurant's kitchen would be too small to handle high volumes. Now, says Martino, they see how much dead space is in Bono's kitchen. They have even implemented process and design improvements at Bono's that incorporate lessons learned from Willie Jewell's. Paying for Authenticity An efficient kitchen making authentic barbecue is just one aspect of a successful fast-casual barbecue concept. Put simply, Willie Jewell's design reflects an old-school barbecue joint. While that may seem like a no-brainer, it's not. Recall that one of the benefits of fast casual in general, and Willie Jewell's in particular, is the low buildout cost compared to similar casual-dining restaurants. For many operations, this includes the use of less expensive finishes and furnishings that, says Martino, can create an artificial aesthetic, such as plastic chairs and faux-brick rubber wall coverings. Willie Jewell's leans in the opposite direction. The chain pays extra for the real deal. "We want to be a barbecue spot that feels authentic, with smoke in the seat and walls. We tried to capture that with Willie Jewell's, using real wood, with the textures and colors we chose and the signage ... When you walk in the door we want you to feel transported to a rustic barbecue joint," says Martino. The chain has a stained concrete floor (not a worn- looking laminate) and relies on local providers for seating (including banquette, booth, high-top and floating two- and four-top tables) and custom millwork. It will even spend more money on authentic materials for the right appearance. At one point, for instance, Willie Jewell's used a wood lami- nate on the walls, but now uses pallet wood. The interior art package completes the old-school barbecue aesthetic. The menu (static, of course) along with other custom signage uses colors and fonts that impart a slightly aged appearance. The signature piece among these is a sign honoring the concept's namesake: Willie Jewell, a long-time employee/close family friend of the Adeeb family — she actually escorted CEO Joe Adeeb on his first date —who developed many of the recipes and sauces used today by both Willie Jewell's and Bono's. "We decided when we were coming up with a name, that would be a great homage to her and to tie it back into Bono's," says Martino. Owners and Operators Franchisees employing the owner/operator model are the type of partners the company is most comfortable work- ing with, says Martino. The company looks for people with restaurant experience and who will trust the Willie Jewell's systems and processes instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, he says. While the chain's initial growth was very slow — launching at the start of the Great Recession was a stroke of bad luck — expansion has been picking up steam. There are currently 11 Willie Jewell's, located primarily in the Southeast, with another 4 set to open this year. "We've got a lot of irons in the fire. This is definitely our growth vehicle, especially as trends lean more toward shrink- ing footprints and more takeout and delivery. There's no need for big dining rooms and big kitchens anymore, at least for the foreseeable future." FE&S ● Chain Headquarters: Jacksonville, Fla. ● Year Founded: 2009 ● Signature Menu Items: Signature Smoked Brisket, Smokehouse Stackers, and Smoked BBQ Wings ● Number of Units: 11 ● FOH/BOH Split: 65/35 ● Seats per Unit: 80 ● Location Type: Inline and freestanding ● Total System Sales: $14 million ● Average Sales: $1.3 million ● Unit Growth Projections: 15 total stores by the end of 2018 ● Check Average: $11-12 ● Equipment Package Cost: $110,000-$125,000 FACTS OF NOTE The production line in- cludes just a few pieces of cooking equipment and is designed to minimize steps. Willie Jewell's kitchen is far smaller than that of its parent concept, Bono's Pit Bar-B-Q.

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